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Creativity: The Essential Discipline for Entrepreneurs

  • Jeff GoinsJeff Goins

The world is changing.

And we need more creatives. Period. The good news is that this doesn’t exclude you.

As Dan Pink wrote in A Whole New Mind, right-brainers are on their way to ruling the world. And you can join them, if you take the time to cultivate your creativity.

The Dawn of the Creative Age

The Industrial Age is over. The reign of the factory has fallen.

We now live in an age where conceptual understanding is m

ore important than tactical comprehension. A person’s ability to theorize and hypothesize — to imagine and create — is a more important than one’s ability to manage people or execute a list of tasks.

If entrepreneurs are going to survive this new world, they’re going to have to learn the discipline of creativity.

Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Let’s get one thing straight: an entrepreneur is a “creative.” Creativity is simply the art of starting. And what is entrepreneurship but starting something? The gospel of this new age is that anyone can do this. Anyone can be creative. Here’s how:

1. Give yourself permission to play.

What’s something fun that you really enjoy doing?

Can you do that at work? Why not? Give yourself and your employees (if you have them) permission to play at work.

This jumpstarts creativity in more ways than one. Times of play can unite your team, reinvigorate a stale workspace, and birth new ideas. It may feel like wasting time, but it’s actually an investment into your future work.

If you’re a sole entrepreneur, pick a few activities where you can play and still make a living. Is this a side business or a passion that could be potentially down the road? Have fun and see what happens as a result of your playfulness.

If something good comes about, do it again.

2. Pay attention to your ideas.

Everyone gets ideas. Everyone sees solutions to certain problems.

The trick is recognizing these moments, capturing the ideas, and learning to harness them. When you get an idea, write it down. Take a picture of it. Pull out a digital voice recorder and make a note to yourself. Do something to stamp the moment into your consciousness, so it doesn’t drift back into the ether.

3. Get really good at putting your ideas into practice.

Ideas that never get put into practice are virtually worthless.

The problem with ideas is that we don’t know which ones are good until we try them. And if we’re particularly attached to an idea, it can be scary to try it out, because we risk failure. Which means admitting that the idea we loved wasn’t that good in the first place.

Entrepreneurs know this better than most. You have to begin — to bring something to market — in order for you to know whether or not it’s a viable business opportunity. Most successful creatives have several projects that they’re working on at a given time. Those who are really good at what they do have a peer group that vets their ideas and helps them launch them.

You can do the same with your business ideas — getting several in the hopper and using a community to help you develop them. Get into the habit of launching things — of capturing ideas and experimenting with them to see which ones stick.

And all the while, don’t forget to play. If you’re not sure where to begin, why don’t you start with a brainstorm? My friend Stephen Brewster has an interesting theory called the “The 20 Bad Ideas Rule,” which states that nobody can have 20 bad ideas in a row. Creativity is a numbers game.

Get started now. Start turning out ideas, and eventually you’ll find a winner.

What do you think? Does learning how to be more creative make you a better entrepreneur? Can anyone be creative?

8 thoughts on Creativity: The Essential Discipline for Entrepreneurs

Ashvini Saxena

Hi Jeff,

 Some good points here. I often get ideas but do not write them down. Its time to do that 🙂

Hans Schiefelbein

Jeff this is really good stuff. Very creative thoughts and ideas. I’m actually trying to move from and industrial-type occupation to a more creative one. Trying to launch and produce actionable items each week but it’s hard to creative revenue. Thanks for the encouragement.


Good stuff! You’re right about number 3. Follow through is soo important.

Good Job!


Jannick Kjaer

Hi Jeff, first comment here. Good post I like it! Starting up ideas is now coming naturally to me, but much more after following your point 3, which I think is so very important. Having launched ideas in Mexico (with my girlfriend) with no money and knowledge about the market, I’ve found it essential to “just get started”. Don’t be too concerned about a business plan, funding, risks etc.

What you need is market knowledge, which means go talk to potential customer and show them what you got, preferably something visual. If it’s a website then start with a blog, it’s free!

Do everyone get ideas though? I sometimes hear people say, “if I could just get the idea”. Maybe it’s an excuse:-)

I’ll go back to my site and play a little more! Great day.

Danny Iny

Hey Jannick, I think getting ideas is an iterative process – the first idea isn’t always great, but if you don’t start acting, and cultivating the idea, new ones don’t come. 🙂

Jannick Kjaer

Hi Danny, I very much agree with you, the outcome is usually something very different and also changes with increased knowledge of the market you are serving.

What I mean though is can we just safely assume that anyone can come up with ideas? I think a good article topic would be “how to create an idea”.

Danny Iny

You’re right, Jannick, that would be a great idea for a post. I think idea generation is kind of like a muscle – the more you practice, the better at it you’ll get. Some people are naturally “stronger” than others to start out, but it’s practice and training that really determines your skill level. Does that make sense?

Jannick Kjaer

Yes, I do agree with that Danny. I actually did some free writing on the topic last night, and think I got an article out if it. What came to my mind was exactly that it’s a muscle you can strenghten and it’s about feeding your brain a little data and a goal and it will look for the opportunities. Like the classic, you buy a red car and suddenly you see red cars everywhere.

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